Course 2009-2010 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 18
ACME-LS (6 credits - I sem. - CC)
Course Director:

Classes: 18 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

The aim of the course is to explore the cultural dimension of consumption under different points of views. This course addresses questions around meaning and practices of consumption in post-modern societies in which the immaterial value of the objects has overcame the traditional use value with all the consequences that this has in consumer’s behaviour. The economic neo-classical approach is not able to explain this emerging complexity without the contribution of disciplines like history, sociology and anthropology.

Some theories in the sociology of consumption suggest that our consumption and lifestyles increasingly hold more meaning than traditional identity markers such as our paid work, income, education or ethnicity

The course starts from the origin of the consumption phenomenon and go through its relation with identity, societies and symbol. Some specific parts will analyse the consumption in the cultural industries and the main aspects of cultural consumption in the urban areas.

Course Content Summary

  • The origin of consumption - Marx and the notion of value
  • Beyond the homo oeconomicus - from rational addiction to rationality boundaries
  • The social dimension of consumption
  • Culture, social identity and consumption
  • Value and symbolic exchange - consumption as a language
  • Media convergence and new spaces of communication
  • Modernity at large - cultural anthropology and globalization
  • New patterns in consumption studies - agent-based theory evolutionary approach
  • Cultural consumption and urban spaces imaginaries and creative production
  • Cultural consumption in practice:
    • contemporary art market
    • cultural industries
    • museums and heritage
    • design and fashion
    • festival and cultural events

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Attending Students

The status of attending student lasts for the first two calendar exams of 2010. The final evaluation is based on:

  • an individual essay on a topic arranged with the professor (40% of the final grade)
  • an oral exam on subjects discussed during lectures: selected parts of textbooks and learning space materials (60% of the final grade);

Non-attending students

  • Written exam on all the subjects covered in the textbooks
  • An optional oral (up to 3 points to be added on the grade of the written part)


Selected chapters in the following books:

  • Storey J. Cultural consumption and everyday life, Arnold 1999 chap 1 (pp 1-17), chap 2 (pp 18-35) chap 3 (pp 36-60) chap 7-8 (pp 128-148),
  • Slater D., Consumer culture and modernity, Polity press, 1997 chap. 1 (pp 8-32), chap. 5 (pp 131-147) chap. 6 pp (148-173)
  • Fine B. The world of consumption chap 4 (pp 57-78) chap 7 (pp 125-154) Routledge 2002

The following articles:

Garnham N., From cultural to creative industries, International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol. 11, n.1, march 2005, pp. 16-29.

Mommaas H., Cultural Clusters and the Post-industrial City: Towards the Remapping of Urban Cultural Policy, Urban Studies, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2004, pp. 507-532

Hutton T., Spatiality built form and creative industry development in the inner city Environment and planning A, Vol. 38, 2006 pp 1819-1841

McFadden, D, 1999. Rationality for Economists?, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Volume 19, Number 1-3, December 1999 , pp. 73-105 (33)


Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 20/07/2009 15:32